Last night, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus teamed up with Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir to perform a very special show at Ovens Auditorium. The final stop on the Lavender Pen Tour, this night of music, celebration, advocacy, and togetherness was a true testimony to the power of music to bring people together and speak wisdom even into the darkest of times.
The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus was founded 40 years ago. Their first official “concert” was performed less than four months after the group’s formation at the memorial services for Harvey Milk (San Francisco’s first openly-gay elected official) and Mayor George Moscone after their assassination on November 27, 1978.
SFGMC planned the Lavender Pen Tour (named in honor of the lavender pen that Harvey Milk gave to Mayor Moscone to sign into being a gay civil rights bill passed a year before their death) shortly after last year’s election. Rather than go ahead with their planned trip to Europe, conductor Timothy Seelig and men of the choir decided that their talent could be better used spreading their message of love and acceptance to some of the South’s most conservative, anti-LGBT “Red” states.
Joining forced with Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, SFGMC began their tour in Mississippi, traveling through Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina before ending in North Carolina. The group performed at a number of interfaith services as well as big-venue concerts. In Selma, Alabama, they marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and throughout the week-long tour, the singers met with local LGBT, civil rights, and religious organizations. Each concert’s earnings were given directly back to the community: any money that didn’t go directly to covering the base cost of the trip was donated to local LGBT organizations. To make this remarkable charity possible, each member of SFGMC and OIFGC paid the $2000+ to cover their own way.
Last night’s concert at Oven’s Auditorium featured opening acts by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte and One Voice Chorus of Charlotte. Proceeds went to Time Out Youth, RAIN, PFLAG Charlotte, Transcend, and the participating choruses. Nearly every act was met with a standing ovation, and the energy and love in the performance space was palpable from beginning to end.
For more information about SFGMC, please visit their website at http://www.sfgmc.org. More information about the Lavender Pen Tour can be found there, as well.